Blame my beloved but this is going to be a review more of the fuzzy sensory impressions of a gig rather than one of crisp incisive detail and reflection. You see, it was she who at towards 5pm announced that if we were going into Huddersfield town it had to be “now”. So, it was by the time the evening’s music had started in Huddersfield’s Northern Quarter, we had already consumed quite some flagons of Londinium’s finest and strongest ale; Gamma Ray. While there will no doubt one day be a last time, dear reader, I confess last night I was as drunk as a skunk and while I am spilling my heart onto an electrical impulse screen; it is not a condition that is completely alien to me.
It may be the beer courage, but it enabled me to bring up the elephant in the room in that the lead singer of Hazel Dormouse Jack Laycock is not the strongest vocalist in the world. No, I wasn’t saying it to some random in the room, I was saying it to Jack Laycock. An incisive interview technique perhaps, but to be honest the most celebrated singers in our world are not technically the best, and it is about how the vocal is presented that counts. Here, Jack and Hazel Dormouse have a charm and a style which means I will always completely enjoy their company and their performance. In turn, rather than kick me out of the venue on my behind, Jack was kind enough to praise a review of the Persian Rug Sale EP I had written. In truth I am not the strongest wordsmith either, so a perfect pairing perhaps.
Anyway, talking of a perfect voice, first up on the line up was Marnie Glum with a thoughtful and intense solo acoustic set, and with a vocal that is as pure as a mountain spring. I recall Charlotte Lynch (Marnie Glum) as guest vocalist on 2020’s Two Pound single Shower Beer, and it took all my drunken determination not to randomly speak to the poster boy of that Two Pound single and album, Ade, who was also intently watching proceedings. I probably would have only said something that unintentionally offended him.
I always admire solo singers and acoustic guitar when they perform; it feels they are stripped to the soul as there is nowhere to hide. Marnie Glum performed with a warm confidence, and a nice lazy, comfortable and smooth flow. It was something of a tour across the world as she shared a song inspired by someone’s move to Australia out of the blue, and then the only track currently available, the beautiful Celebration, Florida. Marnie Glum specialises in sad, low key, thoughtful tunes and there was a lot to like here.
By contrast Huddersfield’s The Dots offered up a spirited and lively set, and after a little warming up they gave a tight performance. I think the interesting element were the flashes of very technical guitar and drum playing which came through in a set where the tracks were more straightforward indie rockers. The Dots did a brave and clever version of Cocaine, where the duelling Fenders were clear a highlight of the set, and a nice sneer in the vocals. I say brave not only because of Clapton’s reputation as a master guitarsmith but also because of racism and feudal lord attitudes, clapped out is about as welcome at a gig as dog poo on a shoe is, these days.
I scribbled down a lyric which may have been misheard but it was about wearing borrowed underwear, which I thought was inspired. The band ended with something of a Primal Scream/ Stones flourish and had I just seen the Dots alone I would not have felt short-changed in the slightest. The Dots have a couple of singles released soon, and I think there is much much more to come from this young band.
I’ve promised myself a gig with Hazel Dormouse for long enough (going back to their Persian Rug Sale days) and now I’ve seen them, I want much more. There is a nice style with Hazel Dormouse, which rather reminds me of the early DIY days of punk where anyone with an instrument could just rock up onto a stage, but actually the band really play it tight and hard. Punchy little cut off funky riffs, busy beats and a vocal that is 99% enthusiasm and honesty. I defy anyone to not think they wouldn’t mind a tilt at the stage themselves after watching the good time that Hazel Dormouse have up there. Of course there is a huge talent in making it look effortless.
There were 9 songs in this tight set, none of them from the Rug Sale days, and most of them in the slightly more reflective style of the Long Songs EP rather than the earlier rawer sound. I’m certainly hoping that Hazel Dormouse find the time and cash to drop these tracks in a studio before too long. I want to get to know these songs better (haha, and listen to them sober).
Hazel Dormouse are next due to play live at the Angel Weekender 22 at the end of April near Leicester, at a place called Coalville (sounds enticing). I have no doubt Hazel Dormouse will do Coalville no end of good.